Lowell Libson & Jonny Yarker Ltd

  • Recto: pen and ink with grey wash
    Verso: pencil, pen and ink with grey wash
  • 8 ¼ × 6 inches · 210 × 152 mm
  • Recto: A female figure
    Verso: A study of a sailor leaning on an anchor
    Drawn c.1779


  • P.& D. Colnaghi & Co.;
  • W A Brandt, acquired from the above 25th April 1962;
  • by descent to 2023

This expressive double-sided drawing was made by Prince Hoare and dates from the 1770s, the decade he was working in Rome. On the verso is a drawing of a male nude leaning against an anchor, the reticulated lines of his musculature and exaggerated scale mark this out as the work of the so-called Master of the Giants. Whilst there is no evidence that this particular sheet belonged to the album that formed the focus of a famous exhibition at Roland, Browse and Delbanco in 1949, the drawing does add weight to the attribution of the contents of the album to Prince Hoare.

Hoare was born in Bath in 1755, the son of the hugely successful portrait painter and founder of the Royal Academy, William Hoare. Having studied under his father, Hoare won a premium at the Society of Arts in 1772 and entered the Royal Academy Schools in 1773. In 1776 Hoare left for Rome where he entered the international circle of artists working around Henry Fuseli, including the Swedish sculptor Tobias Sergel who became a friend and correspondent. A gregarious, talented and cosmopolitan figure Hoare all but abandoned art on his return from Britain, becoming a successful playwright instead. The liquid study of a dramatic female figure on the verso of this sheet instantly recalls Sergel’s Roman sketches. Drawn in pen, ink and brush, this liquid sheet has a decidedly theatrical quality. The limpid cast shadow is drawn deftly with the brush and appears almost like a blot. Alexander Cozens was a good friend and correspondent of Hoare’s father, William, and they would undoubtedly have been aware of Cozens’s famed technique for beginning compositions.

The highly theatrical hairstyle, with its trailing locks, is reminiscent of Henry Fuseli’s fascination with fantastical female hair. Hoare and Fuseli became close friends in Rome and evidently worked and socialised together and one can discern in Hoare’s expressive style his intimacy with Fuseli. Hoare’s wealth, according to Northcote writing from Rome ‘he has an independent fortune of two or three hundred a year’, meant that he largely remained an amateur artist. Something of this rawness remains apparent in his drawings which are idiosyncratically unacademic.